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Jim Wallis: 'Rediscovering Values'

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Evangelical activist Jim Wallis wants a moral response to America’s financial crisis. Economic recovery will not be enough, he says. The country needs a recovery of values.

Wallis is a progressive voice who has long been a critic of the market-driven life. Now, he says, his point is proven.

Wall Street will not show the way. The need for change, he says, goes far deeper. To other, older values.

This hour, On Point: Jim Wallis and his call for a moral recovery from economic crisis.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Guests:

Joining us from New York is Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourner’s, a progressive evangelical Christian organization, and founder and editor-in-chief of Sojourner’s magazine. His latest book is “Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street.”

And from Stanford, Calif., we’re joined by Tod Lindberg, political scientist and research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. He’s editor of Hoover’s Washington-based journal, Policy Review, and a contributing editor at The Weekly Standard. He’s also author of several books, including “The Political Teachings of Jesus.”

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  • John

    Religion is not the source of morality.

  • gemli

    I would normally spew some anti-evangelical sentiments here, but I don’t know Mr. Wallis, and he might be a nice guy. So I’m not going to do it.

    If I had, my rant would have said something about the bible being a pretty sorry source of moral values, what with the slave owning and homophobia and general misogynistic thread that runs through it.

    I probably would have mentioned famous evangelical snake-oil salesmen that litter the profession, including convicted felons like Jim Bakker, or the hate-mongering Jerry Falwell, or the seriously scary Pat Robertson. I might have questioned the way these frauds take advantage of the ignorant and insecure, who tithe to keep these con-men living in luxury.

    The conclusion would have said something about depth of faith and deep conviction not being a gauge of moral value, as some of the worst crimes against humanity have been committed by religious zealots.

    The conclusion would have said something about moral values being able to exist in a secular framework that is not encumbered with hurtful, divisive mythologies that set groups against one another, and motivate behavior by irrational fear or impossible promises.

    Maybe next time.

  • Expanded Consciousness

    OnPoint is turning into the 700 club.

    Should have invited Don Cupitt on, as well:

    http://philosophybites.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=563453

  • http://www.iamdark.com Jeanette Michelle

    It doesn’t matter because America is destined to fail. This country was built on false pretenses and never apologized for the evil it has done. So no matter what they do they need to atone for the evil they have done. So this moral thing you’re speaking of, America didn’t have morals when the set foot on this soil and stole the county from the Natives and stole a group of people from the continent Africa. In other wise, the moral crisis has been in affect since America made it America. You get it?

  • eric

    wow… lot’s of anti-religion.
    To me, Wallis is one of the most non-religious Christian I’ve ever heard. Has anyone hear read his books?

  • http://www.iamdark.com Jeanette Michelle

    This evangalist is full of him self. He knows what America is or has been since the beginning of its Monarchy. Moral values has never been a part of America’s vocabulary; its a ploy.

  • Todd

    “Religion is not the source of morality.”
    Posted by John

    Then, do tell, what is?

  • C. Tedford

    I don’t know this guy either, but I do like what he said, that it’s time to rethink American values. It’s no longer “keeping up with the Jones,” but rather “making sure the Jones are okay.” That alone gave me pause for thought.

  • http://www.iamdark.com Jeanette Michelle

    Religion does not have anything to do with what has happened economically either. People created this situation – Morals America never had. They only spew out that word as a scapegoat. It’s time for America to throw in the towel. America is just reaping what they’ve propagated.

  • jeff weigand

    While I admire the pastor’s passion…the fact is that good christian values can’t really be enacted in our capitalistic economic system…we need more socialistic values and those need to be enacted via government which we are NOT getting from the Dems…those of what is best for the community as a whole…THAT would be moral could we do that…but given the recent bailouts of the very system that has done so much damage…there is just much moral hope out here.

  • BHA

    There is NO causal link between morality and religion. There are moral and immoral people who are religious and those who are not. How many Catholic mafia Dons repent on their death beds?? Who was behind the Inquisition? The Crusades? What about all the polytheistic peoples who had to choose between conversion to a monotheist religion and death?

    Let’s cut to the chase, anyone who was involved with the economic crash are immoral, whether they go to church or not. They will not not change their ways. As soon as they can, they will walk the wrong side of the line again in pursuit of more money for themselves.

    Mr. Wallis referenced the Muslim rule against charging interest. No disrespect meant, don’t come kill me, but what a joke. There is no practical difference between loaning people money to buy a house, holding a lien on the property and charging them principle and interest until the loan is paid off and the Muslim method of buying the house, then renting it to them until it is paid off. “Rent to own” is still charging them more than the purchase price of the house. The total payment is the same, they just don’t call it interest.

  • jeff weigand

    sorry….last sentance meant “NOT much moral hope out here for those of us within the storm.”

  • John

    Morality is the result of cultural behavior that we adapted as we lived in groups. Anyone who doesn’t take the bible (or other religious text) literally is obviously applying an external morality when deciding which parts of the text to follow and which to disregard.

    So far I have agreed with the guest, but I don’t see any need to base any of his conclusions on a supernatural source.

  • http://www.iamdark.com Jeanette michelle

    And these banks are not going to remodifiy these loans because they are greedy! Isn’t that one of the 7 sins? Maybe if they weren’t so greedy, America will not fail, but…it’s destiny. America is over and they need to accept defeat. And the church..huh! They’re after money too because they are tax free. Shouldn’t the church be discussing these issues with their memebers? I think not! Because of Greed. This country was built on Greed!

  • Christie Caldwell

    I agree with Jim Wallis and have a lot of respect for him. I think that we need a voice like this in America right now, speaking deeply to America on real issues that impact us all. And this is coming from a post-religious Humanist. What he is saying, and has said in his other books, is incredibly valuable.

    A lot of what he is saying is actually also in the book, “Smart Couples Finish Rich” (ironically), which tells you to align your money with your values.

  • Michele

    The CEOs that sit around the boardroom table have no morals. Not inside the boardroom or outside in the real world. They are driven by greed. They may sit in the pew on Sunday, but they are there for the show, not for the message.

  • Dan

    He gave a website moveyourmoney.com or org, but neither exist. Can anyone find it?

  • Alice

    People are already organizing to put some ethical restraints on financial dealings. The “10% Is Enough” campaign, of which the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization is a part, reminds us that usurious interest rates have been condemned by all main religions since the time of Hammurabi. Why? History has proved that eventually, economic bubbles from speculation on loans and investments eventually burst–and bring down empires, often through war and its attendant miseries. See http://www.10percentisenough.org

  • Rebecca

    Would be nice…

    I don’t think a day would arise where those in power would actually put the interests and well being of people ahead of MONEY.

    As things become more desperate people are left with the choice of moral high ground vs. getting food in their bellies; my bet is people will do whatever it takes to maintain what they have and to put food on the table. Morals will be one of the first things to go.

    It would be ideal – I just don’t think its realistic.

  • Rebecca

    Move your money is here:

    http://moveyourmoney.info/

  • andreaa

    Jim Wallace mentioned the site “moveyourmoney.com” but he meant to say, I think: moveyourmoney.info.

  • Lynn Francois

    Riane Eisler wrote about this in her book, the Real Wealth of Nations. She focuses on the “real wealth” of a nation is it’s children and how we raise them and how we value them. If we building a Full Spectrum Economy (FSE), google it, we can restructure an economy that works for us, not us for it. The Move your Money movement is a start, but you’re going to have to couple that with a state bank like North Dakota (the one of two states that is solvent and currently adding jobs). This is not a religious solution, it’s a human solution. We survived 3 million years valuing our families and raising them and its taken 10,000 years, out of the Fertile Crescent, with a fundamental change to our social framework, and its not working. The individual striving for more has gone to the furthest end of the spectrum and its become obscene. It can be rebalanced to allow for individual expression and development, but with a cap that says beyond a certain point, its excess that is unnecessary and society could offer an option that satisfies and socially rewards this exceptionalism but not through money. The tipping point is coming….we want to do this and so we will.

  • dan

    Just found the website he mentioned:

    moveyourmoney.info

  • Todd

    “Religion does not have anything to do with what has happened economically either. People created this situation – Morals America never had. They only spew out that word as a scapegoat. It’s time for America to throw in the towel. America is just reaping what they’ve propagated.”
    Posted by Jeanette Michelle

    Except for your opening sentence, I think I can agree with you. Countries do not have morals, but people do (or don’t). I think it would be a very difficult argument to somehow dissolve the connection between America’s lack of morality and the grief it is now reaping.

  • jeff from Vermont

    There is a link between religion and economics…and that point is Belief….and the point now is that Noone believes in the supposed fair play of the game we are all playing…it IS rigged…so non-belief has simply met what is reality.

  • Larry Dolan

    I think Mr. Wallis does not go far enough with regard to a conflict between Morality and Economy. There is a fundamental conflict when our whole economic philosophy is based upon a model that assumes the economy is a separate disconnected entity from our emotional or moral identity.

    To succeed in our economy you MUST value money above all else. This in direct conflict with living a life motivated by a spirituality that is based upon giving all that you can of yourself to your fellow human beings.

    I find this to be the biggest flaw in Wallis’ argument.

  • Lynn

    What is Mr. Wallis doing with the profits of his book? PLEASE ask him this on the air….it says much about his sincerity l

  • gina

    He actually just said: “Religion has no monopoly on morality or values”.

    Hallelujah, this guy seems to be a different flavor of evangelical. Dare I say, a more moral one?!

    Religious leaders might do a lot of good if they focused more on real moral issues like the ones he’s speaking of, and left off prying into other people’s bedrooms.

  • http://www.dance2swing.com Alan Cormier

    I am a Swing Dance teacher and got to know and understand the values that you are talking about through learning the Swing Dances of the Great Generation.Because I have become interested in the values of that generation through my study of dance and I think it was their values that got them out of that time of distress. I look forward to reading your book.
    Alan
    Dance2Swing Studios.

  • Greg L

    I believe the new moral compass is the green economy. It replaces the dying dogma of religion with a secular sense of intergenerational responsibility (morality).

  • BHA

    Posted by Todd: “Then, do tell, what is?”

    Religion, at its core, is an attempt to control its followers so they follow its teaching. Follow the Church rules or bad things will happen to you. You will go to hell. If you do ‘good’ you go to heaven. All basically a carrot and stick. I imagine centuries ago, it was the only way to keep people from ‘doing unto others’ as opposed to ‘doing unto others as you would have them do unto you’.

    People can be AND ARE moral because they know treating others and the environment well is the right thing to do. Maybe it is nature, maybe nurture, maybe both. I am an atheist. I do not cheat, I do not steal, I do not hurt or kill others, I do not beat my wife and children, I do not rape alter boys. I help people when I can, I brake for squirrels. I try to limit my impact on the planet. If I were a mortgage loan officer, I would NEVER lie or falsify information to make a loan, I would NEVER push someone into a WORSE deal for them so I could get a bigger percentage from a mortgage company. I do not need, nor have, a deity or religion to tell me how to act in a moral and ethical fashion.

  • Damian

    A big part of the problem comes from the fundamental goal of American modern business which is maximization of share holder value. Management constantly focused on stock price and will ignore morals to keep the stock price high. Management focuses on surviving quarter on quarter rather than providing real growth.

    A better approach practised by other countries, Germany is a good example, is the maximizing stakeholder value which not only looks at shareholder value but includes employees, customers, vendors etc.

  • http://www.iccr.org Laura Berry

    Faith based institutional investors (through the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. ICCR) warned of the meltdown in sec filings and via proxy statements at financial service companies since 1993. Faith based investors have served as an “early warning system” by addressing behavior that was not grounded in the values common to all faith traditions. Those warnings have not always been headed but they have frequently served investors (and society) well. Thank you.

  • Todd

    “Morality is the result of cultural behavior that we adapted as we lived in groups.”
    Posted by John

    I disagree. Morality, or at least an intuitive sense of right and wrong, is ingrained into our very nature as human beings.

  • Susan Mojica

    What can we make our governments do about this? Restore sound money. Fiat money always becomes worthless and in the process corrupts a society. Witness the speculation and lack of saving so rampant today. Who in their right mind would save a depreciating dollar? Better to gamble it, better to even become greedy out of fear for what the future holds.

    Will the American People ever start giving a damn about their law again, that well-designed and well-thought-out law based on tried and true principles? These principles are found everywhere, elucidated in the writings of men and women who saw them and wrote them down. And yes, some of these are even found in that book we call the Bible.

  • Ed B

    How many of you fine people are getting paided to write comments. I have been out of work 17 months.
    My comment was free. Lets get to work this gets me thinking on the recovery tracked

  • John Martin

    I will have to listen to the full broadcast later, as I missed some of the beginning, but I hope Mr. Wallis has made mention of the influence evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity has had in furthering the decline of marketplace values, if not helping create the issue in the first place. Having grown up in a fundamentalist Christian environment, there was a strong sentiment towards unfettered capitalism, the God-given right to make as much money as possible and hoard it, equating government programs to assist the poor and in need with “godless communism”, and blaming the poor for not working hard enough. In discussions with evangelical Christians, I have heard arguments in the realm of “It should not be my responsibility to pay for someone else’s health care” or “It’s their own fault for taking a mortgage they could not afford in the first place; I shouldn’t be the one to bail them out,” clearly in opposition to the words of Christ, yet a common belief among certain sects of Christianity. Religious cold war rhetoric, which has continued even to this day with obviously misplaced cries of “socialism” at every move made by the current administration, seems to be, in part, a cause of this crisis of capitalistic morality.

  • Todd

    “What can we make our governments do about this? Restore sound money. Fiat money always becomes worthless and in the process corrupts a society.”
    Posted by Susan Mojica

    Exactly right! You hit the nail square Susan!

  • http://www.buddhaspillow.blogspot.com Paul Creeden

    I am somewhat amused by this segment. Why didn’t Mr. Wallis start preaching to us on these values beginning with the Reagan Administration? Perhaps there wasn’t any money in it for him then? Perhaps he, like other evangelicals, rode the Reagan coat-tails to power? Was it perhaps not in his interest to scream about the evangelicals who were encouraging people to overleverage as part of God’s plan?

    Is this 20-20 hindsight? Or, is this an example of evangelical opportunism with a shade of remorse?

    I wholeheartedly share the ideals Mr. Wallis is selling. However, many of us, whom the evangelical community would condemn to the fires of their hells, have been maintaining these values all along. And, as someone who tries to promote these values in my non-commercial blog and in my daily life as a secular humanist without charging a fee, I find it hard to see the depth and truthfulness of his moralism.

  • John

    I disagree. Morality, or at least an intuitive sense of right and wrong, is ingrained into our very nature as human beings. – Posted by Todd,

    That doesn’t prove that it has a supernatural source.

  • gina

    Bravo for your statement, BHA – and love the “brake for squirrels” part ;-)

  • http://www.theeyeofthebeholder.net Eve Lyman

    Your shows are great Tom – but even you fall into the polarizing – right-left/conservative/progressive way of talking. It is IRRESPONSIBLE!!!!

    As a member of the media, you need to think about what attitude you want to encourage and nourish. We will be staring at the abyss we just have begun to pull ourselves out of after 8 years of unutterable destruction.

    THINK!!!!

  • Timothy Gill

    It is interesting to hear this program. For a number of years, I have been using the phrase “the basic dishonesty of American business” to describe my experience every day as a consumer. Hidden fees, outrageous fees, tricks, fine print, $n.99 pricing, etc. Banks, cell phone companies, and credit card companies are the worst.

    It would be nice to be able to do business with companies that stand out as honest and ethical in all these respects.

  • jeff from vermont

    Let’s talk banking and morality…recently The Guardian printed an article about drug money in banks being “the only liquid assets” the whole back half of 2008…keeping the banks alive…funny, so the so called “dirty money” from drug gangs was actually the only real money while all the “legit” and legal money in banks…i.e, fake money, was what overwhelmed the systems and that we are then bailed out was “clean”…

  • jeff from vermont
  • Todd

    “I disagree. Morality, or at least an intuitive sense of right and wrong, is ingrained into our very nature as human beings. – Posted by Todd,

    That doesn’t prove that it has a supernatural source.”
    Posted by John

    @ John:
    Not to say that I wouldn’t make that assertion, but exactly where in my above statement did I put forth the argument that it did?

  • Liselle

    How can Wallis discuss morality in a capitalist society, especially one such as ours, where there are no real restraints on greed?
    What could be moral about a country where the wage disparity is obscene – where the workers who keep the country going are treated as dispensable, as nothing more than wage-slaves and cannon fodder?
    And as Jeanette Michelle wrote above, this country was founded on immoral behavior: genocide, kidnapping, slavery.

    Was Wallis writing about our immoral behavior during those times when we were supposedly “prosperous” – despite the always present poverty, racism, classism, ageism? Does he not know that this country was built on immorality? Was he concerned about our immoral invasions and manipulations of so many countries, overtly and covertly, whose citizens were killed in our name, paid for by our tax dollars?

    Religion has nothing to do with morality, and this country is evidence of that. Many of our most moral actions – ending child labor and sweatshops, getting some benefits such as social security – were fought and won by….atheists! They were motivated by their deeply held belief that we are all connected to and responsible for each other.
    Wallis is deluded if he thinks something has changed, it’s just that now the chickens have finally come home to roost.

  • http://shulmandesign.net Alan Shulman

    Capitalism v. Socialism v. any other economic system’s virtues or faults aside, there will always be some tension between what we believe and what we do. So, what are the ethical standards against which we are viewing our possible actions? I have personally always viewed the golden rule as an excellent starting measure for guiding moral behavior. More specifically, because it speaks to our dual role as individuals and community members, I have also admired the Talmud’s questioning invocation, “If I am not for myself, who will be, if I am only for myself, what am I, and if not now, when?”. The evaluation we make as we compare our actions with our beliefs is ongoing; the ethical standards can provide guidance in the market or any other economy. Questions such as should I buy goods produced by slave or grossly underpaid labor merely because they are cheaper, as one small example, would seem to be informed by the previously mentioned standards.

  • John

    Todd, Your first answer implied that religion was the source of morality. I assumed your second answer built on that and that you were making the claim that an intuitive morality had religion as its source.

  • J G MC Laren

    Great discussion. Would appreciate NPR following up with an in depth discussion of voluntary simplicity.

  • Todd

    “Religion, at its core, is an attempt to control its followers so they follow its teaching….People can be AND ARE moral because they know treating others and the environment well is the right thing to do….I am an atheist. I do not cheat, I do not steal, I do not hurt or kill others, I do not beat my wife and children, I do not rape alter boys. I help people when I can, I brake for squirrels. I try to limit my impact on the planet. If I were a mortgage loan officer, I would NEVER lie or falsify information to make a loan, I would NEVER push someone into a WORSE deal…I do not need, nor have, a deity or religion to tell me how to act in a moral and ethical fashion.”
    Posted by BHA

    @ BHA:
    No. Objectively, at its core, religion is a discipline; an attempt to teach its followers self-control. To know the difference between right/wrong, and act accordingly, is a benefit not only to others, but to oneself. However, like any other institution that involves a human element, religion is subject to corruption. Corrupt people who feign adherence to a sound ideology does not mean the ideology itself is corrupt. Yes, it is good that people like yourself can be moral and do the right thing. But, who or what imparts the ideas of what is right/wrong to you? Why is it right, and why do you therefore do it? Because it is the right thing to do? A bit tautological to merely explain it away like that, isn’t it? Is it a spontaneously-generated morality within you that causes you to have a sense of right/wrong? Unless there is a plausible, meaningful answer to such questions, then doing right/wrong becomes a relative/subjective matter. Without a static definition and reason to do right, morality becomes a matter of choice without any real consequence, other than those applied by society at large—which, of course, is comprised by corrupt-prone human beings. Just a few thoughts.

  • Todd

    “Todd, Your first answer implied that religion was the source of morality. I assumed your second answer built on that and that you were making the claim that an intuitive morality had religion as its source.”
    Posted by John

    @ John:
    Fair enough. But no, I wouldn’t assert that religion is, per se, the source of morality. Rather, I would argue that religion is a result of our innate human desire for morality. I do believe, however, that said desire is indeed connected to a spiritual nature that transcends our material one. So, you were not off point with your assumption, just early.

  • http://home.att.net/~dick.adams/ Dick Adams

    Today you gotta rent money from banks to be anything, do anything, or buy anything. That, basically, is where we are. It did not always used to be that way. Used to be that anything over 6% interest was usery. When bankers found out they could lend greatly more money that they owned, the jig was up for the rest of us. Values, moral compasses, etc. are useless. Jesus cannot help us outta this one.

  • robert bristow-johnson

    “gemli”, and others… i would heartily suggest getting to know a little more about Jim Wallis before judging him alongside of the likes of Falwell or Oral Roberts and the like. i’ve known about Jim Wallis since the 1970s. the christian community that he founded (Sojourners) and the magazine (now called “Sojouners”, but originally was called “Post-American”) has stood against the common heresy of the religious right for 4 decades.

    there *is* a christian left, and we are well aware of the shameful example and great damage that americanized, capiltalistic, “fundamentalist”, so-called christiany in america has caused. it has brought great shame to the name of Christ and is still doing so.

    BTW, i was the last caller on the show this morning. this baloney about “growing” ourselves out of this mess (caused by greed and irresponsibility) is another misconception that needs to be ditched. and the earlier the better.

  • http://www.eve-fest.org/ robert bristow-johnson

    Paul Creeden, Jim Wallis *did* take on Reagan and the realities of Reaganism back in the 80s. he certainly did.

    i dunno where but find some library that carried Sojourner’s magazine back to the 80s and see for yourself.

  • d hall

    Another “bright light” from RB-J. What motivates our thoughts to write these comments? A myriad of beliefs mostly filled with depressing negativity concerning our country and the state of its morality? C Tedford’s brief comments also offered one of the few positive responses. Wallis gave me much more to think about than those stinging criticisms of so many.

  • Pete Demers

    The origin of morality and religion come from our natural contradictory instincts of survival and greed. Our economy is controlled by these instincts. First, we want to survive and we can’t do it alone. We gather in groups to collectively contribute our resources for the survival of the group. However, our envious nature, greed, drives us to get more than our share and the natural law of survival of the fittest takes hold. The strongest take more than they need and distribute only the minimum to the weaker, enough to gather the resources to maintain the strength of the group. To combat this phenomenon, a group of the not so strong, gather and make rules to govern the clan. Their leaders claim their power come from mystical beings thus the establishment of religion and morality.
    Our economy is the collection of our resources and the distribution of those goods and services must be distributed equally based on the contribution of each individual. Those who contribute the most should receive the most. Money is the tool of our capitalistic economy, and its efficient distribution is needed to maintain a vibrant economy that provides the goods and services to all its members.The distribution must be distributed based on the value of the services rendered. The problem that we have today is that those in control of that distribution, CEO’s, are keeping the money for themselves and to those they favor, basically using the tool of the economy, money, very inefficiently. We aren’t getting the bang for our dollar as we should. Morrally, this is unjust and for government to enact tax laws that encourage this greed rather than discourage this inequality is government for the rich and against the commonner. Obsene salaries and bonuses for little service value should be taxed to the hilt to encourage the distrbution of wealth based on value of services rendered. This does not mean to tax earnings from investments as income from investments has a great value especially id developing better quality of life for all. That is capitalism. For Christians, Jesus taught us of capitalism with the parable of talents. The proper regulation of capitalism is a just economy. Morality, that is the control of ones greed, must be held in checked.

  • Carolina

    For those spouting the “Religion does not control morals” rhetoric, did you listen to the show or just read the bio/publicity blurb on the website. I lost track of how many times he stated that religion did NOT have control over morals. Yes, some people may have their morals influenced by religion but he repeatedly commented on people of all faiths or no faith driving this discussion. I am one who does have faith and I have to agree that these discussions are imperative if America and perhaps the world are to truly learn from our mistakes. It does not matter if one has faith or not we are all going through this economic crisis and we all must contribute to a collective learning if we are to avoid this in the future. Part of this process must involve an individual decision to respect another’s choice to follow a particular faith or not. Those who spew rhetoric about simpletons being controlled by religion are no better than those spewing rhetoric about pagans and heretics driving the world to hell (aka religious right or any religous extremist). Humanity will forever spin in circles until we can learn to respect one another equally not just those with whom we agree.

  • Twitter this

    Morality has no more place on Wall Street than it does in an apple orchard. The purpose is to produce fruit. Both are subject to law, but neither is subject to “morality”, whatever that may be. Will those who place a moral code over “Wall Street” please provide a moral blanket for the rest of creation.

  • cory

    Twitter this,

    Remember your post when you are sickened by produce that was fertilized by ecoli tainted, untreated animal waste. Morals have a place in all human activities. Why would Wall Street or an Orchard operator be removed from right and wrong? I’m glad you aren’t in charge, because the dark, cynical world you imagine isn’t one I’d like to live in.

  • http://realestatecafe.squarespace.com RealEstateCafe

    Doesn’t look like any listeners on this thread, or OnPointRadio’s Facebook page, have connected Jim Wallis’s message to Pope Benedict’s encyclical on Economic Justice. You can find excerpts on the Wall Street Journal link below:

    Pope Weighs In on Financial Crisis
    http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2009/07/07/pope-weighs-in-on-financial-crisis/tab/print/

    If you want to build a person-centered business based on an “Economy of Communion” check out:
    http://www.edc-online.org

  • cory

    There is a moral deficit in our culture. Unfortunatley our morality is an organic and evolving entity that probably isn’t able to be easily steered. I suspect that it has its own momentum, and changes in course will be slight at best.

  • Warmmidwest

    I just ordered five books online as gifts for friends and family. Can’t wait to read this! – Madison, Wis.

  • Brett

    Anyone who has helped raise children knows that young children are amoral. They don’t know stealing is wrong, for example, but if they steal, they usually do so because they want something only and can’t see the effects of stealing, i.e., why it is wrong. If they could articulate at all what they think about stealing, about what morality means, they would say something about good behavior as it applies to the watchful eyes of their parents, i.e., stealing a cookie is wrong because they might get into trouble with mom, etc. Along the way, through good modeling, explanation, cognitive development, empathy development, supervision, and so on, children develop a sense of morality.

    Some children seem more inclined toward grasping the concept than others, but I think there is some intrinsic quality toward morality in humans, maybe because we are wired to see ourselves in others and can grasp the concept of treating others how we wish to be treated, but I can only speculate.

    We have all experienced children who have grown beyond developmental stages and are mean to others, who steal, are selfish, etc. These are the basest of instincts that are urge responses, really, that most of us have been taught to overcome in some way. The learning away from such ignobility usually happens as a result of influence by others in addition to realizations within our own consciousness.

    As humans, we start out neutral, have thoughts and feelings of both moral and immoral desires, and hopefully, grow toward the former. Thoughts of either morality or immorality being intrinsic to our nature or not, immoral behavior, as well as moral behavior, are definitely learned behaviors. Some humans learn moral behavior quickly and easily and can self-regulate their behavior toward being moral, while others need strong consequences in place all the time to keep from being immoral.

    With regard to societal functions such as the economy, greed can have a strong grip, and there needs to be strong consequences in place to help (as my father used to say) “keep honest people honest.” Some in the financial world will still be inclined toward stealing, cheating, treating others poorly, etc., though. All the more reason to keep the reins tight on financial practices.

    The example from Mr. Wallis of the banker who refused to bundle his customers’ loans is a good example of someone operating on a strong sense of morality, but the banker has also been reinforced for his approach by being given awards and attention for his banking practices, in addition to having a strong, thriving bank.

    I first tuned into the show being ready to attune my radar to catch any Christian talk and any self-righteous proselytizing…I didn’t hear any; in fact, Wallis, more than once, said religion has no sole claim on morality. The call for changes in the ways people can behave to promote a better society, seemed to focus on practical arguments of living in a better world where people treat each other better and systems like economic ones will be stronger and more stable. The rewards of conducting oneself and one’s business with regard to ethics and morality are great; the consequences of not doing so are great, as well. Some will only be able to see the consequences after the fact (think Bernie Maddoff).

  • Sam

    I’m not familiar with Mr. Wallace’s works, so I won’t comment on him personally. But I do tend to get a suspicious feeling when someone speaks of returning to conservative values, because those values have historically been, in my opinion, exclusive, overly judgemental, and oppressive. I agree whith the notion that many more people should think with more consideration for each other in business as well as other aspects of our lives. But morals are subjective. One person’s justice is another person’s oppression. I’ve known too many people who only care about themselves and their tight social circles, and that, I think, is a downhill slide that many in our society have been on for far too long, and it hurts us all.

  • Andy

    Tom,

    In the Fall of 2008, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, President Bush, and even Senator Obama told Americans that we had a MORAL obligation to rescue the failing financial institutions.

    That anyone would now claim MORALITY as the basis for any economic policy argument shows, I believe, that the speaker has not learned the painful lesson of that week of incredible arm-twisting in the Congress: that when we agree to accept morality as the basis of a decision that affects the future tax liabilities of American citizens, we have effectively ended the conversation— those who disagree with any argument rooted in morality must be shown to be ignorant, deceitful, or selfish (for what higher authority could they cite?)

    Those few American citizens who were sufficiently observant then, as now, recognize that (once again) the appeal to MORALITY is misplaced and misdirected, and that the proper consideration is that of RIGHTS: where do members of Congress, the Treasury, and even the President himself derive the authority to confiscate the rights of Americans to plan reliability and soundness into their own economic futures?

    Answer: Not from the U. S. Constitution, but from the inattentiveness of a deeply distracted electorate. And one more appeal to ‘morality’ (always with the best intentions in mind) will serve only to further distract and divide an already fractured citizenry.

    Discussion and consideration of RIGHTS can always proceed with respect for our different views of morality, and I hope that Americans will begin to understand that their ability to exercise their own view of morality — a deeply private matter — is best guaranteed by the safeguarding of their rights — an entirely public one.

  • Todd

    “Discussion and consideration of RIGHTS can always proceed with respect for our different views of morality, and I hope that Americans will begin to understand that their ability to exercise their own view of morality — a deeply private matter — is best guaranteed by the safeguarding of their rights — an entirely public one.”
    Posted by Andy

    @ Andy:
    No. Morality may be deep, but it is not an entirely “private matter.” Quite the opposite. By necessity, morality must precede rights. Rights are rendered meaningless, unless there is a moral consensus within society (i.e., the public) to respect and uphold them.

  • Jonie

    Thank you for the program.

    Mr. Wallis’ words were insightful and inspiring. His question “What/how much is enough?” along with his reference to the Native American dictum that we must consider the next seven generations when making our decisions, and even his comment that budgets and calendars are moral documents presented a deep and refreshing approach to morality.

    What he was saying, I believe, is that we must begin to develop a sense of thoughtfulness, community, far-sightedness, and moderation if we are to avoid repeating the current economic trends.

    Although he pointed out that the Bible contained a multitude of references to caring for others, he was not espousing one particular religion, or, in fact, any religion at all. Rather, he indicates that these values can reflect a common human sense of community and responsibility. A serious conversation about this matter, I agree, is sorely needed in today’s world.

  • Michael

    Moral Oral,

    http://www.adultswim.com/search/index.html?queryText=moral+oral

    Gotta check this out, Its a show on adult swim that where the child takes everything of the bible values,morals literary.

  • Brian

    Another sad Robin Hood Democratic view. Jesus said we will always have the poor with us. Which is sad but true, this man is seeking a utopia that cannot exist here on earth. Yes we should look out for our neighbor and lend a hand whenever we can, but our neighbor must look out for himself as well, and if he cannot keep up with the pack there is usually good reason. Sorry to be so course but the strong survive and the ignorant suffer.

  • Brett

    “‘…morality must precede rights.’” -Todd

    ‘Xactly! Thou shall not kill must precede the right to bear arms, for example…while certain mitigation may modify some consequences to moral/immoral behavior and alter the consensus on how those behaviors are defined, those behaviors are important in how they apply within the context of society, or, the public. The Bill of Rights could not be properly extended to the citizenry without a certain moral consensus on certain behaviors. We have inalienable rights, as it were, but those can be revoked in certain circumstances, especially if we don’t practice morality. There are limits to how much consensus we can have with respect to morality, however, and society grapples with where that line is between the public view and personal definition of morality all the time.

  • Brett

    Brain,
    I may have missed it, but I didn’t hear anything from Wallis about “‘seeking a utopian society’” where morality dictates everyone must be prosperous. Everyone has the right to strive for prosperity, and everyone should enjoy some protection, some recourse in the event another person/entity engages in deceptive practices in the acquisition of prosperity. It is not a simple case, however, of separating people into weak (“‘the ignorant’”) and powerful (“‘the strong’”). There are many examples of people who can not look after themselves to the extent they can keep up with everyone else, or they can not transcend unscrupulousness by others; as a society, we do have some obligation to observe at least a little more than a concept of “too bad…suffer!”

  • John

    in response to Carolina,

    I neither “spout” nor “spew” rhetoric. I think for myself. As you can see from the timestamp, my first post was before the show aired because I disagree with the premise that biblical values are a source for morality and public policy. While a great number of those “controlled by religion” are simpletons, obviously the majority of religious people aren’t and I don’t think anyone stated that they were. Individuals are free to believe whatever supernatural belief they want. It doesn’t follow that those beliefs are factual. Respecting religious individual does not mean that accepting these beliefs as equal to scientifically proven facts. While individuals may be motivated by their own religious views, these views must not be cited as a reason to construct public policy. I agree with the Catholic Church on capital punishment and poverty issues. I disagree with them on anti-gay bigotry and reproductive choice. I don’t welcome their (or any other religious institution) lobbying on any issue even when I agree with them on the issue being debated.

    On a tangent, atheist China and (mostly) polytheist India are doing a bit better economically than the US at the moment. Maybe we should see what Kubera has to say on wealth instead of Jesus.

  • MEHNA

    The comedian he talks about is Louis CK, he’s great.

  • Chris Hearn

    BHA-

    You wrote, “If you do ‘good’ you go to heaven.”

    While sadly this heresy has been in the church, it is not the teaching of Jesus or the Bible.

    Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24.

    Paul wrote- “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
    Ephesians 2:8-9.

    and

    “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:21.

  • Amanda

    wow. its clear that many of the comments here are from people who did not even listen to this show. mr. wallis was talking morals and values, not religion or even much christianity- in fact he referenced a very diverse set of religious and spiritual leaders and faiths. he clearly stated that this discussion is not based in religion, and that one being of a judeo-christian background, or even a religious background, is not at all necessary in order to participate in this “movement”. as an atheist, i found his perspective to be incredibly wise, compassionate, loving and frankly, refreshing. i find many of the anti-religion comments here to be full of the same anger, division, cynicism, and contempt that brought us here in the first place. i enjoyed this show a great deal, and i thank you for airing it and for giving mr. wallis a platform for his views. im very much looking forward to reading his latest book.

  • Susan Mojica

    “There can be no truly moral choice unless that choice is made in freedom; similarly, there can be no really firmly grounded and consistent defense of freedom unless that defense is rooted in moral principle.”
    ~Murray N. Rothbard

  • mr.independent

    I am a Swing Dance teacher and got to know and understand the values that you are talking about through learning the Swing Dances of the Great Generation.Because I have become interested in the values of that generation through my study of dance and I think it was their values that got them out of that time of distress.

    Alan I think it’s great that you love swing dancing.
    However I think you need to take another look at that period. Did you know that most Americans supported the arrest and the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during WW2. African American solders were not originally allowed to be in combat units as it was thought they could fight. These units were called all sorts of names, such as “Eleanor’s Ni…rs” and worse. It was common for African America solders to be subjected to the laws of “Jim Crow South” while the German POW’s were not.

    Things are never as rosy as people like to make them out to be. There is no such thing as “the good ol days”.

  • Brett

    A lot of what is “remembered” about the Great Generation is what happens when people wax nostalgic or have reactionary notions. True, that generation sacrificed much, but what is thought of as better values is again what happens when people retrospectively look at times gone by: they remember the good things. The world was not as connected, which made it less a concern when people held narrow views.

    The Norman Rockwell memories don’t quite square with what life was really like.

  • Fred Harrison

    No one mentioned the traditional sources of moral authority. In England (the mother country) artistocratic values were understood by the public to be proper, and the upper class lead by example as to the right way to speak, dress, and conduct one’s self. The American leadership class, people of inhereted wealth along with individuals of exceptional ability, did once, similarly provide leadership by example, but it faded in the 1900′s. Check out Nancy Reagan moving to Hollywood as a young lady because she saw, in the actors of that era, such leadership values. We looked to the media, and President Reagan was the product of that era, but later media stars became bad examples. To whom does a young person look to as an example of how to dress? Wallis seemed to say that there was a common, democratic, everyman idea of what is right. This is drawn from the days when Americans were small farmers. We’re suburbanites now, with cable TV. My vote goes to more and better exposure of influential people, so that leadership by example can continue. How, for example, does the Chairman of IBM make decisions? Anyone seen him in action? Maybe the Donald Trump show was a good start.

  • Cornelius

    Normally, when I hear the words ‘evangelical Christian’, my teeth begin to clinch and my agnostic-with-pagan-tendencies eyes roll a bit, but I liked this guy. Give him a listen; he makes a lot of sense. To me, it seems late evangelical Christians would naturally gravitate towards progressive liberalism. Let’s face it, Jesus was not a maintain-the-status-quo republican. Surely we can all agree on that.

    Also, consider switching from a big band to a credit union; it’s just better that way.

  • ageofaquarius

    If religion is the only source of morality, I wonder how the Chinese have survived 5000 years of history & culture without a single organized religion. Even Buddhism is not that dominant in China. Most Chinese like the spirit of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucius, but they hardly go to temples. Being kind, treasuring nature, forgiving, having patience, tolerance, no stealing, no killing, especially “Filial” highly stressed in Chinese virtue. All of them have existed before Buddhism was introduced in China, before Jesus was born.

  • Anonymous

    I loved Wallis’ book. Thanks for posting this interview. For those who recoil at the word “evangelical” and think it’s synonymous with “conservative” –you need to read this book. Wallis is progressive. In Rediscovering Values, he writes things like, “God’s economy teaches that when we share, things tend to multiply.” We’ve made the market an idol and that needs to change.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jr9del Pat R

    Slaves and robots don’t create! That isn’t news to Wall Street.

    If Christianity had remained in Rome, it would not be a predominant religion today, having spread as it has.

    The 1% don’t innovate, they hoard. Few jobs will therefore arise from that wealth, but much potential wealth will be lost. Taxation of the wealthy may benefit government salaries, but won’t do much for the nation who has exported its competitive edge of educated, and technology driven people – throwing out the baby, as well as the bath water.

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